If you’re a fan of Liz Lessner’s Columbus Food League restaurants like I am, by now you may have visited the newest addition to their collection of unique eateries, Dirty Frank’s West, which has been open for business and serving loads of folks from the west side and beyond since February. I love the original Dirty Frank’s space downtown, both for their cheap, tasty dogs with outrageous topping combos, and for the cool ambiance of the place. But everyone I know has the same complaints about the original wiener shack – it’s too small, and the parking stinks. With reports of much roomier digs and abundant parking at the new spot, and all at the same thrifty prices to boot, some friends and I stopped by the other night to check it out.
The first thing we noticed was that the parking lot located right beside the building is closed, however there is street parking available right out front, as well as a couple of lots across the street. DFW is indeed much larger than its sibling DF’s Downtown location. With approximately 2500 square feet of space, half of the interior is clearly established as the “bar side”, and the other half a dining room full of eclectic 80’s rock & sports icon artwork.
The bar is fully equipped with pretty much anything you’d want, including local brews on tap at prices that most other joints can’t touch, and even has a root beer tap! DFW is also borrowing a few favorite drinks from their home base and bringing them along for this new ride on the west side, including their famous Hot Rod Slush – a neon green beauty made with pineapple juice and hot sauce. They have a list of drink specials available at each table, and are more than happy to oblige your requests.
We got there right after work, at around 5:30pm on a Tuesday, and the place was practically empty….until around 6. That’s when the dinner crowd floodgates opened and the dining room was packed in no time. DFW has certainly been embraced by the Franklinton/Westgate neighborhoods, and is simply a really cool place to eat.
As I mentioned, they’ve decked the walls with much of the same half-hip, half-creepy artwork that will be familiar to the Dirty Frank’s faithful. I like many of the sports-themed paintings (extra points for the Chris Sabo Starting Line-Up figure!!) and some of the 80’s bands, too.
But as groovy as the art is, most people come to DFW for the grub. If there’s one word I would use to describe the menu at DFW, it would be options. You start by choosing either Dirty Frank’s all beef Vienna Hot Dogs, or The Good Frank’s soy-free Veggie Dog as the base of your meal. Here’s where the options kick in – you can chose the standard method of steam cooking, or have your dog “ripped” (fried) or “Charred” (split & grilled) at no extra charge. I highly recommend the latter. Not in the mood for a plain hot dog? For less than a buck, you can replace it with a bratwurst, polish sausage, or you can bacon wrap that dude! There are also several bun-type options, and if that’s not enough to make your head spin, you can also go vegetarian or vegan on most dogs.
Ok, after the basics are established, then comes the real selection process. Dirty Frank’s features a couple dozen specialty dogs, all at a crazy cheap price range ($3 to $3.50). There’s also a handful of Premium dogs that range from $4-$6. On top of that, DFW cooks up sides like mac & cheese, slaw, fries, tots and more.
I ordered two charred, all-beef dogs: Mary Ann’s Westgate Dog from the regular menu, and a Brisket and Slaw Dog from the premium list. The Westgate was piled with the outrageous combo of bar cheese, brown mustard, soft pretzel bites, and shredded cheddar cheese. The soft, poppy seed bun was fresh and the dog itself was juicy and full of flavor. I love cheese, and this dog was beyond cheesy in a good way. The thing that kind of threw me off were the pretzels. I was expecting super-soft, pillowy bites of salty pretzel goodness, but unfortunately the Westgate didn’t deliver in this area. The pretzel bites were almost hard, perhaps stale…like they may have been soft and warm at one point during the day, but that time had long passed. It kind of ruined the whole dog for me.
On the other hand, the Brisket and Slaw dog delivered in a huge way. The shredded brisket was hot and tender, and was liberally piled on. The slaw was a delicious contrast, being cool, creamy and crunchy. I could eat two or three of these boys.
My health conscious buddy ordered a trio of veggie-friendly franks: The Beano, made with a vegan dog, topped with vegan refried beans, diced tomatoes, fresh onion, yellow mustard, and cheddar cheese; The Razzle Dazzle, made with a veggie Polish sausage link, and topped with vegan cream cheese, grilled peppers and fresh onion; and a Columbus Crew Dog, made with a veggie bratwurst, and piled high with banana peppers, black olives, and sriracha cream cheese.
Another plate that was delivered to our table was stacked with a couple of delicious wieners – The premium Whoa Nellie Dog, which was loaded with a big helping of that awesome brisket and topped with a drizzle of bbq sauce, and a big bratwurst frank topped with a generous helping of tasty sauerkraut.
Finally, our friend Nate ordered two of the Slappy Pappy’s Super Sloppy Dogs – two enormous dogs layered with coney sauce, fries, cheddar cheese, bacon and sour cream. He also ordered a side of creamy, comforting mac & cheese ($2).
Dirty Frank’s West is an awesome place to eat, not only for the atmosphere but even more so for the food. With tons of options, there is totally something here for everyone. If you’ve been to Dirty Frank’s downtown and either the wait time, the lack of parking, or something else has discouraged you from becoming a regular, give Dirty Frank’s West a try. The neighborhood isn’t glamorous, but it’s filled with people who are excited that DFW has brought some new life and interest to the area.
Dirty Franks West is located at 2836 W. Broad St, Columbus, OH 43204 (Map). They’re open Sunday – Thursday, 11:00am – 12:00am, and Friday – Saturday, 11:00am – 1:00am. For more info, you can visit them on Facebook, Twitter or at their website.